Last time on Banished: Elizabeth and Tommy were star-crossed lovers! James was being bullied by Marston! Major Ross has ISSUES! Governor Philip tries to be a reasonable authority figure! Private Buckley is a smirky creep! Tommy and Elizabeth got married on the scaffold! Such romance!
There is skulduggery and digging and whatnot in this episode. Let’s get to it.
(I just realised how many captures there are of Joseph Millson as Major Ross throughout this review. I can’t help it; he makes the best faces.)
The show makes the most of its location shooting by opening on a glorious shot of a misty sunrise. Beautiful. James sharpens a shell, enough that he can cut his palm. Is he trying to quell his hunger by drinking his own blood?
Oh, no, he’s just going to put the fear of a very hungry guy into Marston. He looms over the bed as Marston sleeps, and somehow manages to make the shell look very threatening as he puts it to Marston’s throat, who wakes up sharpish.
(Ha, ha, ha, I’m so unfunny.)
He demands his food back. Marston points out that if he kills him, he’ll hang, but James says he’d rather die quickly by the noose than starve to death. Marston calls his bluff and dares him to do it, but (un)fortunately he’s saved by the daily bugle. Thwarted, James tells Marston that the hungrier he gets, the easier it’ll be for him to gut Marston like a fish, and vanishes into the…day, leaving Marston somewhat shaken.
It seems that the show has actually remembered that Elizabeth should still be in incredible pain from having the skin of her back lacerated multiple times, so we’re treated to a nice tender scene (in both senses of the word) where Tommy laces her up in her stays, distracting her from the sheer agony of it all by telling her a joke about a polar bear cub. It’s not the best joke – don’t give up your day job is all I’m saying, Tommy – but it gets a laugh out of Elizabeth. Which immediately hurts her, defeating the point of the exercise. But she doesn’t seem to mind, because they kiss under extreme closeup.
James stumbles up to the cooking fires, sees Marston watching him like a hawk as he finishes off his own breakfast, and clearly decides it isn’t worth trying for food again and letting Marston get another free meal out of him.
James stumbles into the married quarters where Elizabeth and Tommy now get to live in nuptial bliss. He looks so pitiful by this point that Elizabeth gives him a tiny portion of bread. Tiny meaning we’re talking ‘pinch off the loaf’ territory here, but James savours it like it’s manna from heaven. Which, considering who it came from, it might well be in his eyes.
Elizabeth arranges her knickknacks, including a shell with a feather in it and a teeny tiny figurine of a dog which is adorable and which I want with a fierce wanting. She reveals that Tommy told her how James promised to look after her should Tommy die. James immediately starts claiming that it was ‘only if he had to’, but it’s all very sarcastic and affectionate rather than awkward. Always a plus.
The awkwardness only starts when James wonders if, now that Tommy’s happily married, he’ll still be willing to help dispose of Marston. Elizabeth states the obvious: if Marston’s found dead, James will hang, simple as that. But don’t worry, James has a cunning plan; as cunning as a fox that’s just been elected Professor of Cunning at Oxford University. He’ll bury his body! On the beach!
Elizabeth points out that, even if he claims Marston ran away, even if there is no body as proof, James will still hang. James is ready to take that risk – but will Tommy, now he’s got something to live for? Elizabeth literally saw the man she loved about to hang only that morning, and doesn’t want to see him go up on the scaffold again for murder. Speak of the devil; Tommy shows up just then with his stuff, giving James a dubious look. James pleads his case again, swearing he won’t point any fingers or name any names. Tommy makes his choice, and James is nearly frantic with relief they begin work-shopping where to do the deed. Elizabeth protests that there has to be another way, although I don’t see her coming up with any bright ideas.
And now Ross shows up, and –
-oh, so this is why Ross wasn’t at the execution: so we get to see this expression
on his face.
He tells James to get lost, since he’s not supposed to be in the married quarters and all. I love how James barely brushes past Ross on his way out.
Ross is furious that Philip pardoned Tommy, and is shocked again when he learns that they got married. Although really, they’re in the married couples’ tent. Ross, you’re better than this.
Just for that, have another picture of Ross looking stunned.
Ross storms out, with Tommy snarking that Elizabeth’s not even pregnant, so it wasn’t a hurry-up affair. The smile falls off his face as he turns to Elizabeth; James is their friend, and they cannot let him starve to death. Elizabeth understands that, but she doesn’t have to like it.
The Johnsons recuperate after the traumatic experience they’ve had. Johnson gives thanks to God that, for all the two of them have had to endure in the past and all the times he’s railed against his creator, his wife has always been there for him – just as she was there while on the scaffold. No matter what this new land has in store for them, he’ll be able to meet it with her at his side. It’s such a wonderfully sweet and gentle scene.
Although it does make me wonder, just a bit, when it cuts right to Anne and her companion coming out of the Johnsons’ tent with their washing loads. Were they just silently gathering up the laundry and not looking over to where the vicar and his wife were cuddling?
Ross turns up and calls for Johnson – and then take a moment to look after Anne and her friend once again as they depart.
Johnson comes out, and acknowledges that, yes, he married the pair of them. Ross assumes he lacked the guts to do it. Ah no, for you see, Tommy Barret is the most Christ-like man Johnson has ever met!
(Johnson, I know your wife was talking about a crucifixion, but I don’t think this is quite what she meant.)
Johnson backs himself by saying Tommy is a man of courage, principle, integrity. A leader!
Gentle creatures, I present to you what’s probably running through Ross’s head right at this point:
Ross snaps that such qualities mean there was all the more reason to hang Tommy. Do I detect a small smile on Johnson’s face as he watches Ross stalk off?
Ross next goes to question Philip, but the way is barred by Deborah, Philip’s housekeeper. Turns out Philip was waiting up all night for the verdict concerning Tommy and is now out for the count. Deborah manages to negotiate a new time and place for Ross to see Philip using firm and completely innocent statements, that nonetheless have the potential to sound utterly filthy when used in the wrong context. Which we all know Ross will. I mean, “He may have other priorities” is just too easy to work with.
Ross, thus thwarted again for the time being, turns to see Anne and the other woman ducking into another tent. Even with his back to us, he clearly comes to a decision, and hurries off the porch of Philip’s house.
The two women are surprised when Ross enters the tent, and the blonde woman grows more apprehensive as he asks her name. It’s Katherine McVitie, which is slightly unfortunate; I keeping thinking of McVitie’s Biscuits whenever I hear it. She’s more apprehensive still when he asks how long she’s sentenced for – 14 years. There’s an awkward pause while he stares at her. (Is Ross working up his nerve?) Katherine clearly just wants to get out of here before the other shoe drops. Ross suggests that ‘good behaviour’ could get her sentence down to twelve or even ten years. Oh yeah? Of course, such good behaviour would need to be commended.
By someone like him.
Ross appears to have really taken Elizabeth’s comment last episode about sleeping alone to heart, and plans to rectify it.
Poor Katherine is stuck, almost pinned down by Ross’s unlooked for desire. But she believes she has a shield, saying that she already has a soldier. Ross praises her loyalty. His name? Katherine, confused, reveals it to be Private MacDonald. Ross thinks on this, stores it away and then departs as quickly as he arrived. Anne congratulates Katherine: “All your troubles are over, Kitty.”
Ross summons Private MacDonald, who turns out to be the soldier who was praying at the foot of the scaffold last episode. Ross starts out with the carrot, offering a shiny epaulette and a promotion to corporal as a reward for all the ‘good things’ he’s heard about MacDonald. MacDonald’s so joyful at this windfall, a dream come true, complete with backdating to England so that he gets extra pay! – that it hurts all the more when Ross tells him what he’ll have to do to fully ‘earn’ that rank. Share Katherine McVitie.
MacDonald is not willing to do that. Because he loves her. Ross pulls out the scratched record of ‘she’s a whore’, but MacDonald insists she’s not. Ross tries to sweeten the deal with additional food, but MacDonald isn’t having it. Now Ross is really confused. If MacDonald won’t accept a promotion, money or food in return for letting Ross have an hour or two with Katherine, what will he accept?
Well. How about a little blackmail? Yes, Ross goes there. Antagonistic, remember? He asks where MacDonald was on the list of soldiers when picking out a female companion. (See? I told you that last fact would be important later!) He finds it highly unlikely that MacDonald, being 23rd on the list, would have ended up with a beauty like Katherine – unless they took steps to ensure she wasn’t noticed until that point, with her hiding away until it was his turn to pick.That’s a direct defiance of orders, and never mind that they love each other; Ross can have MacDonald court-martialled. MacDonald sticks with the ‘love’ argument.
What can Ross say to that? Only that MacDonald should talk to Katherine, clearly hoping she’ll knock some sense into him. Charming than he doesn’t have MacDonald brought up on charges straight away. Oh, and he can take the epaulette with him.
(Just as an aside; I’m really curious as to how this whole setup worked. Did the soldiers get to pick the women while they were all still on the ships? Or did they have to wait until all the women were herded off onto land and grouped together, like a cattle market? And did that happen immediately, or were the women given a day or two of rest and a opportunity to tidy themselves up before the selection, giving MacDonald and Katherine the chance to hatch their plan? I just want to know how Katherine managed to hide, and why no one noticed the discrepancy of her getting paired with MacDonald until Ross made this deduction.)
Oh well, back to Marston. Elizabeth comes upon him at work in his forge. When she asks him if he think James could kill him, he’s scornful; same for Tommy, but both of them together give him pause. He asks why Tommy would help James, and scoffs when Elizabeth points out that, hello, they’re mates. She makes the quite reasonable suggestion that Marston could steal someone else’s food for a change, and lay off James for a while. Careful, Lizzie, or he’ll be stealing your food next!
Elizabeth doesn’t want all the complications that’ll ensue should Tommy fail or succeed in hurting Marston; is there any way they could resolve this without bloodshed and whatnot? Marston hints at the usual form of bribery/currency, but, like Buckley, is also not to be fobbed off with a hand job. What is it with everyone wanting penetrative sex these days? Fine, if he stops taking James’ food, it’s a deal. She names a time and place, ten o’clock at night down by the rocks-
-which is where things start going wrong, because whatever else Marston is, he’s not stupid. Go with a pretty girl to a deserted place, where no one will see or hear them? Yeah, right. He grabs Elizabeth, mocking the gallantry of men, because they’re scared of other men – but he’s scared of no man, and so he can strike people as he pleases, including women. He points out that she’s quite obviously luring him down to the rocks so Tommy and James can nobble him. When she protests that no, of course she isn’t, he tries to force her to strip naked to prove she’s being sincere. When she refuses, he tells her he could rape her if he wanted. He can do anything he likes, because he’s stronger than any blacksmith, because the soldiers don’t care about what happens to someone like her, and because he’s the only blacksmith the colony has. He gets anything he wants, and he can do anything he wants.
Right now, it pleases him to let Elizabeth go – but only after she’s begged.
Well. That was highly unpleasant.
Out in the outback, where the convicts are chopping wood, James is faint from hunger and nearly on his last legs. They need to get Marston out of the way and soon – although I imagine Elizabeth isn’t going to have many more objections after what he just did to her.
Deborah wakes Philip up from his refreshing nap with a nice cup of tea; a rare treat, since apparently she’s saved this store for a while as supplies dwindle. He asks her to share this liquid ambrosia with him, but she gently refuses, since that would be far too presumptuous. She informs him that Ross wants to see him, and Philip sips his tea as a way of girding up his loins for the battle ahead. They share meaningful looks and smiles.
Now Deborah pours some lovely, oddly crystal clear water into a glass and offers it to Ross. He doesn’t even look at her. How rude. Philip comes in fully dressed and ready to go, accepting his glass of water from Deborah. Ross eyes her as she goes.
Ross is appalled that Philip went along with letting Tommy and Elizabeth get married. Philip really doesn’t get what Ross is so emotional about, and warns him to back down when he starts getting too forceful about the ‘enormity’ of the situation. Why is Ross even here, again?
Ross presents Exhibit A, a sack full of grain that’s been infested with a fungus; they’ve lost about half of their supplies. He claims that everyone’s going to be queuing up to get married and remove themselves from the sticky fingers of his soldiers. And possibly himself? Philip finds that a little unlikely, since if any convicts do get married, they’ll never be able to go back to England. (Well, yeah, I suppose that would apply for the ones who’re already married, but what if they don’t have spouses back home? Also, again, wouldn’t Philip be encouraging the convicts to get married, so they can start building a community instead of just serving their sentences in a prison?) He dismisses Ross’s complaints and cuts straight to what he thinks is really important; how long can they last on the current allotment of rations?
Ross grudgingly estimates four months, which means the rations will have to be cut again – which also, Ross snarks, means that Philip will have to rely on the very soldiers he’s swindling out of free women, in order to keep the peace. Philip reiterates that it’s only one woman that he swindled. One. Plus she was never going to bang any of the soldiers anyway, so where’s the loss? (No comment.) There’ll be others, Ross gloomily predicts. Philip dismisses both the predictions and Ross. Don’t forget your bag of mouldy grain on your way out.
James staggers along, carrying a block of wood. He puts it down just before he collapses. Tommy rushes to keep him from passing out, and helps him get back on his feet. Buckley has no sympathy. You’re an arse, Buckley. James basically looks nine tenths dead at this point. Hang in there, bro.
Mrs. Johnson is down by the shore, teaching some of the women the alphabet, with Captain Collins also teaching someone in the background. And he doesn’t actually seem to resent it! How nice. As Mrs Johnson encourages her students to suggest words with ‘ah’ in them, Anne suggests sad. Mrs. Johnson agrees, saying that of course you can’t see the ‘ah’ sound in the word, but it’s still there. Anne says she can see it, all right – in her teacher’s eyes. Okay, that’s a little ominous. Mrs. Johnson gets right on with teaching, but sneaks more glances at Anne.
I’d be wary around her. Sorry Anne, but so far you seem to be perfectly willing to throw other people under the bus.
Evening approaches, and the soldiers’ women make their way to their respective men’s tents. Katherine sews the new epaulette onto MacDonald’s coat while he tries to find some way out of their predicament. The only thing he can think of is telling Ross that Katherine refused the deal – which would mean a court-martial and a fatal case of being shot. Katherine vetoes that option with some force, harsh with her rage and powerlessness; if he’s dead, there’ll be nothing to stop Ross from taking Katherine all for himself, all the time, every night; “because you will be dead…and he will have no need to share.”
As they resign themselves to what’s about to happen, Katherine softens up for MacDonald, breaching the gap and reaching to cradle his face. As he returns the gesture, she reassures him she’ll use what little agency she has to make this bearable – she will never let Ross forget that she’s only there on sufferance. “No love. No pleasure. Just a contract.” She draws back, having finished her needlework. “Corporal MacDonald,” she finishes, with just a touch of pride, and they stand so she can help him don his upgraded coat.
Hand in hand, they walk to Ross’s tent. Of course Buckley happens to emerging right when they show up, and he gets some fun out of telling the pair that he’s just brought Ross some rum; no doubt he wants Katherine to be ‘relaxed’. You’re such an arse, Buckley. Though he at least acknowledges MacDonald as a corporal, so there is that. Now Ross comes out and tells Katherine to “go in,” rather than come in. Telling.
Katherine enters, then freezes when she spots the honest to goodness, fully made double bed, and the two glasses of rum over in the corner.
Ross dismisses MacDonald and joins Katherine in the tent, shedding his regalia and coat. She tries to wants to wait until she gets back home before she drinks the rum, clearly not wanting to get tipsy and lose her head, but Ross insists. Now. While she swallows and grimaces, Ross smiles; good little convict, you’re already learning to obey! Katherine just wants to cut to the chase, get undressed and get it over with so she can return to the man she loves, but Ross persists in knowing why she’s here. ‘Here’ being New South Wales, not ‘here’ as in the tent at Ross’s pleasure, or ‘here’ in the grand scheme of life, the universe and everything.
Katherine says she was accused of stealing a wallet belonging to Lord Campbell of Weymouth. Ross stands back with a look of quiet contempt on his face, nodding as his suspicions are no doubt justified. Such a look shakes Katherine. For all she promised MacDonald she’d not engage with Ross, now she desperately pleads with him to believe her. “The eyes are a window into the soul, boss. So keep looking. Do you think me capable of such a thing?”
Ross doesn’t immediately shoot her down. If she didn’t do it, why was she accused? It turns out that Katherine worked for Lord Campbell, and one day as she was working in one of the bedchambers, he happened upon her and tried to rape her. His wife walked in on them, and instead of turning on her husband she blamed Katherine.
She would have been hanged, only they changed her sentence to transportation at literally the last minute. Katherine would honestly have died there and then rather than be sent away from everyone she loved, quite possibly forever. “But they would not hang me.”
“I would,” Ross suddenly breathes in her ear.
He clarifies; if Katherine robs him while he sleeps, he’ll hang her. Clear? Katherine is terrified and resigned all over again, brought back from the injustice of her past to the horror of her present with a bump. Crystal.
He kisses her – how strange it is that Ross, about to begin satisfying his lust with a woman he wrote off as a whore, kisses her. Is he doing it merely to spite her further, refusing to allow her that degree of distance from what’s happening to her? Or does he secretly yearn for this type of contact and comfort, delighting in something he’s fantasised about for some time? Adding to the puzzle is the way he pulls Katherine’s arms up and positions them just so about his torso, in a mockery of a passionate embrace. He touches her hair, he cradles her head, he moves her towards the bed. She is unresponsive against him so he steps back, and for the second before he pulls her close and into him, she turns her face away.
Well, that was all incredibly depressing. Quickly, to the beach!!!
…where Tommy and James are preparing to kill Marston. This episode is just so darn cheerful.
Elizabeth shows up, but obviously has failed to bring the victim, since he knew it was a trap and all. Did he get angry? “A bit,” she says; understatement of the decade. Tommy apologises for using her as bait, but James just stares at her in disappointment and perhaps a bit of betrayal. He helped Elizabeth in her hour of need; now she won’t even come through for him? He’s doomed. He’s dead. He’s-
-and then Tommy reaches for Elizabeth’s arm. She flinches away. Tommy demands to see her arm, but she brushes him off. “It is nothing!” It’s not nothing to Tommy. As he goes to get something, Elizabeth turns to James. What happened has destroyed any objections she might have had. She too agrees that Marston needs to die. James nods, realising again what Elizabeth has been through in order to help those she cares about.
Tommy comes back with a lantern, grabs Elizabeth’s arm, sees the bruises and goes mental. He starts off back to camp, while Elizabeth loudly reminds him about killing Marston away from everyone else, otherwise they’ll all be for the noose. (You’re not exactly helping by shouting all that out loud where someone might hear you, Lizzie.) Tommy doesn’t care, and neither does James. Let’s hunt some blacksmith.
…oh, all right; this is also what’s going through Elizabeth’s head right now:
Marston gets another rude awakening as Tommy bursts in and starts to throttle him. James, right behind his friend, holds down Marston’s legs. Elizabeth, bringing up the rear, at first tries to stop Tommy; then clearly decides that sod it, if they’re going to do this they might as well do it properly, and joins James in holding Marston down.
Marston claimed that no man scared him, but one healthy man, one starving man and one whipped, bruised woman who all have had enough of him are able to take him down. They’re willing to take risks and face the noose for each other, while no one’s coming over to help Marston. Seems his philosophy was flawed.
Finally, Marston stops struggling for air. Tommy checks to make sure he’s gone, then tells Elizabeth to start digging. James, nearly fainting from the fight and taking Marston’s food, tells the hut that the blacksmith escaped. After all, he was talking about it all evening. Isn’t that right? The other convicts agree, rather enthusiastically. No one cares that Marston’s dead, either.
James turns back to Marston’s corpse, smiling. They’ve won. It’s over, “You…fuck!”
(And the guards didn’t hear any of that? They heard Elizabeth screaming from a nightmare, but not a guy getting loudly strangled??? Or the convicts agreeing to cover it up?
They also apparently don’t notice Tommy and James dragging Marston’s corpse down to the beach. Worst marines ever.)
Elizabeth’s managed to get a grave partly dug by the time her boys turn up with body in tow – although for some reason she decided to plop it in the middle of the beach, rather than by the rocks as planned. James rests for a moment from dragging the great lump – only for Marston to revive from unconsciousness and try to kill him. Now he’s even MORE like Lurch from Hot Fuzz! Say yaaaaaaaaarp!!!
Luckily Tommy’s there to save the night, with a shovel, two blows to the head and only minimal blood splatter.
Tommy sways, more than a little shaken by what he’s done. James just giggles. It’s been a hell of a night so far.
Her ordeal over, Katherine is getting dressed again. Ross, still fresh from lovemaking (brrrrr) watches her from the bed. Katherine pipes up that MacDonald said there’d be food for her. Ross dismisses her request; after all he’s done for the pair of them, what with the promotion and the money and not getting MacDonald sentenced to death, she wants food as well? But Katherine’s been through too much shit this evening to be fobbed off. So: food. Ross decides not to push it, and tosses her the much anticipated bag of rice.
Trembling, balanced between misery, fear and fury, Katherine McVitie reminds Major Ross that while he condemns her for trading her body, he’s the one who insisted on the bargain in the first place. “And that, Major Ross,” she says, on the verge of angry tears, “is a bit hypocritical.”
Ross seems surprised. He says he’s sorry. Is he actually being sincere? I can’t tell. But he’s startled enough by Katherine’s retaliation and accusation that he does say it, which is telling.
Katherine turns to look at her reflection, so she doesn’t have to look at him. How often will he want her? A bit nonplussed, he says he isn’t sure. Two, three times a week? Katherine at once settles on two. She also establishes that it’ll be straightforward, no whorish tricks, just wham, bam, thank you ma’am. As soon as Ross agrees, she’s on her way out the tent flap, leaving the camera lingering on him as he perhaps wonders what the hell just happened.
The tide’s coming in, and Tommy and James rinse themselves off after their labours. Katherine arrives on the scene and walks to the waves, where she knees down – presumably to wash what’s left of Ross off. Only now does she let herself cry. When Elizabeth comes to see what’s wrong, she pretends it’s only homesickness. Elizabeth picks her up, embraces her and brings her towards dry land.
And so Katherine wends her sad way back to her living space with MacDonald, with Timmins giving her a sympathetic look on the way in. MacDonald is focused on whatever he’s cooking, and when Katherine comes to his side he can hardly bring himself to look at her from shame. She hands him the rice, which he adds to the pot. She’s so apprehensive; what’s he going to say, to do? They get to distract themselves in a conversation about whether they should add some pork to the meal he’s cooking, before the dam of pretence breaks and Katherine blurts out how much she loves Macdonald. They kiss, hard, banishing the very last of Ross. They agree to add some pork to the meal after all.
James is waiting desperately for the food that Elizabeth’s preparing, while she chews out Tommy for killing Marston in front of practically half the camp. (Well, more like about a fifth, but you see my point.) James asks if they can just eat already. She shoots him down, still annoyed with him as well. Tommy reminds James that, if they accuse him of killing Marston for stealing his food, he can just shoot back that they didn’t believe Marston was doing it. That’ll show them. James swears, once again, that if they do hang him, he won’t grass on his friends. Reassured, Elizabeth softens a little bit and lets Tommy dish up a portion of rice and sundry bits for James, who quickly tucks into what might be his last meal.
And when he returns to the sleeping hut, all the other convicts start up a round of slow clapping. Yeah, real nice. Shame you didn’t act on that intense dislike of Marston to help James earlier, chaps. Which he probably thinks, but he basks in the applause all the same.
(Again; even though it’s raining, the guards aren’t at all curious about the noise coming from this hut?)
A new day dawns, so up and at ‘em, convicts! What do you know; they had a version of ‘Hands off your cocks, feet in your socks!’ in the eighteenth century! Timmins soon twigs that Marston’s missing, although I don’t know if James helps his case by revealing who customarily sleeps in the vacant bunk. When quizzed, James of course lies that Marston escaped, although he can deny that he killed him with a clear conscience. MacDonald accuses James of sneaking up on Marston in the night and killing him, like the thief he is. James retorts with a low blow about Katherine sobbing in the waves after having to visit Ross; at least James isn’t a pimp. “Corporal.”
Macdonald promptly tries to deck him, but Timmins stops him, since James is going to hang soon anyway.
MacDonald take the chance to grill James a bit more as he escorts him to the jail. It’s hard to tell who he’s angrier at, James, Ross, or himself for causing Katherine’s misery. James strikes another low blow about MacDonald’s new epaulette: “Did she sew it on for you…Corporal?” Okay, right now it’s James. He’s angriest at James. If looks could maim…
Down by the waterfall, Mrs. Johnson just so happens to be walking near where Anne, Katherine and some other female convicts are doing laundry, and asks Anne to walk with her. She comments that you could tell any woman you see sadness in their eyes, especially in this godforsaken corner of the world. What’s so special about Anne’s comment earlier? Anne, under invitation, looks at Mrs. Johnson, then she states that the other woman’s lost children.
(Really? I’m going to be rather insensitive here, but that’s not very hard to guess. This was the 1780s; about a third of children died while still in infancy all the time during this period of history. I mean, don’t quote me on that figure, but losing children was not exactly uncommon.)
Still, Mrs. Johnson, under Anne’s gentle questioning, admits that she has indeed lost four children, all in childbirth. Anne sympathises with her, and then does something very silly; she asks if Mrs. Johnson would like to speak with them. Mrs. Johnson is rightly horrified at what she sees as an attempt to exploit her, claiming someone must have told Anne, even though Anne protests it isn’t and no one did. When challenged to name the children she can’t – but she knows there are some without names. (Which isn’t too difficult to guess either, since she’s already been told they all died in childbirth.) Mrs. Johnson storms off nearly in tears.
Seriously, though, Anne; the woman is married to the vicar. What did you expect?!
MacDonald’s anger now seems to be tied between Ross and James, since he’s withholding water until James tells him how he offed Marston. James wonders if MacDonald is hiding a bit of admiration for someone killing to regain what was rightfully his. Could MacDonald have done that? Of course he could, he retorts. James doubts it. (This, coming from the man who chickened out of killing Marston twice. Just saying.) Well, if the soldier could kill someone for food, surely he’d kill someone even quicker for taking his woman?
MacDonald gives James his water. Straight in the face.
Here comes Buckley, smirking as per usual. MacDonald is to take James to the governor. Oh yeah, and Major Ross is going to be there too. Smirk. God, you’re a bastard, Buckley.
Standing before Philip, Collins and Ross – the Johnsons apparently weren’t invited to this session – James lies again about Marston escaping, and expands upon it, claiming the blacksmith wanted to do a ‘Jefferson’. Philip wonders how James knows this, since they hated each other. James claims that everyone hated Marston since – oh, the poetry! he made their shackles; indicating the ones he’s presently wearing. (Wait, does that mean Marston made shackles for the convicts specifically, or is it just because he made them in general?) Ross tries to catch James out on his use of the past tense, ‘made’. Yeah, James explains carefully, Marston made them in the past. Because now he’s escaped. Do try to keep up, Ross.
Collins turns attention to the fact that James had food this morning as opposed to yesterday; not that he actually got to eat it. James claims Marston left it for him. Collins somehow doubts someone going on the run would leave valuable food behind, and Ross naturally votes to hang him. James, cool as a cucumber, pulls out the trump card; his supposed motive for doing the deed, ‘he was stealing my food,’ doesn’t work, because they didn’t believe him when he told them Marston was committing theft. If they did believe him, why did they do nothing to stop it? “Little wonder I had to kill him, then.” Ross tries to catch him out again but James, utterly fed up with these three and their not-giving-a-damn by this point (and honestly who can blame him) just tells them to get on with doing whatever they wish.
Philip wishes for him to go. He’s free.
James, now out of his shackles and still rather confused that holy hell, that actually worked, leaves. As soon as the door’s closed behind him, Philip tries to soothe a seething Ross by saying James isn’t off the hook yet; he’ll be hanged if and when a body shows up. He doesn’t want to hang an innocent man only to be proved wrong. Ross, naturally, is all for hanging the innocent if it helps keep order by instilling terror.
Damn, Ross. Why don’t you just execute every tenth male convict while you’re at it?
Philip, for some odd reason, doesn’t want to spend any more time in Ross’s company, so he and Collins toddle off. It’s just Ross and MacDonald left now. The corporal moves to stand behind Ross’s chair. Ross, absorbed in something, dismisses him.
MacDonald side-eyes Ross’s neck, and starts fingering his bayonet.
Ross senses something’s up, and turns around to look up at the corporal. The tension’s so thick you could cut it with a spoon. “Dismissed, corporal.”
“If I gave the epaulette back, sir?”
Ross considers. “It would make no difference.”
It turns out that MacDonald, much like James, doesn’t have the nerve to kill the man who stole something precious to him. (Plus they’d figure out right away that it was him, assuming he even managed to kill Ross. Isn’t Philip still in the next room?) He beats a sad retreat.
James swaggers back to the work site, much to the relief of Tommy et al. No time for touching reunions, though; there goes the bugle!
Philips suits up for a general assembly, with Deborah’s help. (Shouldn’t he have a man servant for this sort of thing? No wonder Ross can put suspicious inverted commas around words! Oh, never mind.) On with the motley, the paint and the powder! Well, no paint, but the wig’s powdered! Philip talks about how it’s so obvious now that people back home didn’t give a damn about the convicts’ welfare, just wanted to get the scum out of glorious England, and wrote them off as soon as they set sail. Now he has to convince a thousand worried, hungry people, plus a hundred tetchy marines, that of course England cares, and of course they’re sending a ship with more supplies. “And I know, I know with absolute certainty, that England does not give a damn.”
And on that note, he puts on his hat.
The convicts assemble as Johnson begins a prayer, while the soldiers line up in front of Philip’s house. One of James’ friends mutters to him that wild dogs have already been trying to dig up Marston’s body. Yeah, it seems the beach really wasn’t the best place to bury him. No time to go solve the problem, though; the soldiers are attaching bayonets to their guns, and here’s Philip!
First thing’s first; does anyone here know how to fly a plane?
(I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist.)
Philip actually asks if anyone has worked as a blacksmith, since James murdered their last one. Thanks, James!!! Philip also lets him know he’s not off the hook yet; if and when the body’s found, he’s due for a date with the hangman. (Or he would be, if they actually had a hangman.) He does at least acknowledge that James wouldn’t have had to resort to murder if Philip had actually been keeping order and preventing stealing. They put Marston above the law because he was deemed too valuable to hang, but that ends here! All people in the colony will now be equal before the law. Here’s hoping that some aren’t more equal than others. He promises that, compared to the corruption of the law and state in England, they have a chance in New South Wales for a new, better, shiny law.
(That’s not me being funny for once; he actually says the law is bright and shiny. Maybe ‘shining’ would have been a better choice? Now that mine eyes have seen the glory of Mad Max: Fury Road, I can’t help but imagine the colony riding into Valhalla shiny and chrome.)
Philip promises that a ship is coming with supplies, and will be here in two to three months. The convicts see where this is going; and, yes, rationing has to be cut again by a quarter. Including for the soldiers as well, which doesn’t make the convicts feel any happier, but just then Ross gives Timmins the signal and the soldiers come to arms. The convicts settle down quickly. Philip promises them that, in exchange for this time of suffering, history will look kindly on them. For this is not just a penal colony; this is the birth of a nation!
The assembly is broken up, and everyone’s ordered to disperse. Ross, who’s been eyeing Katherine throughout Philip’s speech, intercepts her.
MacDonald joins them. Ross wants Katherine again that night, and he has the gall, he has the AUDACITY, to claim he’s only thinking of Katherine in all this. This way, after tonight, she gets to spend five interrupted nights with MacDonald! The kids are not impressed. Katherine begs him not to make her come to him that night. Ross suggests tomorrow night, then, or the night after, with that slight smile never leaving his face. Katherine’s close to crying, which actually does seem to strike a chord somewhere in Ross; faced with her tears, he loses the smile and shifts about. “Let me think about it.” And he leaves them alone, for now, clinging to each other.
Tommy and James apparently don’t have any work they need to be getting back to, because they can just stroll along the beach and find where they buried Marston. Yeah, really should have buried the body somewhere that isn’t incredibly easy to dig up. Just as they’ve finished filling in the hole the dogs made, Johnson turns up, not at all curious about what they’re doing out here in the middle of the day. He has a present for Tommy; a Bible! Tommy can’t read, of course, but then there’s no better book to learn from! Let’s hope 18th century bibles have larger print than modern day ones. Tommy and James then listen in quiet disbelief as Johnson reminds them of how Mrs. Johnson compared Tommy’s hanging to a crucifixion, which in turn makes Tommy Christ-like. I really don’t think that was what she meant, Johnson. I don’t know precisely what she meant, but I’m pretty sure this wasn’t it.
Anyway, it’s wonderful that Tommy’s Christ-like, because Johnson needs some help building a church! Tommy has to refuse for the moment, as the convicts are already fully worked and underfed, but he’s happy for the vicar to bless their marriage. And as Johnson leaves – hopefully to get out of the sun, get that wig off and lie down for a while before he hurts himself – he says he knows they’ll laugh at him when he walks away (which now makes me feel a bit guilty) but think on this: Jesus was the son of a carpenter. If a carpenter can be Christ, why not a convict?
(He has a point. Much is made of the fact that the only person in the whole bible who was actually promised a place in paradise was one of the thieves being crucified alongside Jesus.
Although the fact that Johnson’s saying all this while they’re standing over the body of the man Tommy killed does defeat his argument somewhat.)
And off Johnson trots, while Tommy and James try to keep the giggles in.
MacDonald stares out to sea, no doubt wishing he’d had the guts to use his bayonet earlier.
Suddenly it’s night time, and James wakes up Tommy with the news that the wild dogs have dug up Marston’s corpse. And once more we see the guards are utterly useless, since James is able to get to the beach, get back, fetch Tommy and have Tommy come down to the beach with a flaming torch, all without getting spotted. Thank goodness there are no hostile native Aboriginal people actually on screen in this series, otherwise the characters would be utterly screwed.
So far the dogs have uncovered Marston’s hand, which is completely intact and un-chewed –
– and they’re obviously not going to stop. So what are the pair going to do? Tommy looks at the waves.
However long later, the two have managed to cobble together a raft out of planks, and have paddled the corpse out ‘far enough’. Wrapped in his own chains (which they either conveniently happened to have with them or which they had to sneak back to the camp again to fetch) Marston is sent down to the depths. Of course, when I say wrapped, I mean he’s just got one chain clamped around his ankle. Uh, guys? You don’t want to secure him a bit further? Wrap the chains all the way around him? Just to stop any chance of bits breaking off and floating free? No? All right, then. Tommy’s got a hankering to get back to his honeymoon, in any case.
Mrs. Johnson, unable to sleep, turns to her husband, who also seemed unable to sleep, asking him what he sees in her eyes. Johnson’s spent all day confusing people, now it’s his turn to be confuzzled.
Nothing? Wrong answer. Beauty? Better, but she talks about how Anne Meredith saw sadness. And also she knew about their dead children, and she could get in contact with their spirits! Johnson reminds her that one of the big things about Christianity is the life everlasting, so they’ll get to see their babies in the Kingdom of Heaven, via leading good, Christian lives. Which by necessity do not include necromancy and speaking to ghosts. His wife nods, and turns her back to him to hide her tears. As a final unwitting jab, Johnson warns her that Anne is very clever, and she should be wary of her. I have a feeling Mrs. Johnson is going to cry herself to sleep.
Two rather happier bed mates are Tommy and Elizabeth, although Elizabeth’s worried that James might lose his nerve and turn on them to try and save his own skin. She’s rather shocked to learn that James would never put her in danger, since he loves her.
Well, never mind James and his unrequited love; let’s have sex! Who cares if Elizabeth still has a lacerated back and a banged up arm? She can go on top!
We get a long shot of the rest of the married couples tent, with everyone else asleep while Tommy and Elizabeth get it on. Or trying to sleep, who knows? I figure that must be a very noisy tent.
Deep under the waves, Marston’s corpse is-
-clearly NOT under water, because his hair isn’t moving. At all.
I see one place the budget didn’t go.